How To Get Forklift Certified

This is an in-depth and comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about getting officially certified & licensed to legally operate a forklift in the United States. It includes step-by-step instructions, in addition to answering the most common questions along the way. So if you’re wondering how to get your license to operate a forklift, this handbook is for you.


Step 1

Requirements To Apply

Step 2

Educational Training

Step 3

Certification Exam

Step 4

Receive Certification

Step 5

Get Job as Forklift Operator

Step 6

Receive Hands-On Training

Step 1

Verify You Meet The Basic Requirements

In order to start the process of getting your forklift certification, you must first verify that you meet all of the following requirements:

  • U.S. Citizenship or, if you are not a U.S. Citizen, evidence of lawful presence
  • You must be at least 18 years of age or older
  • You must have limited or no visual impairments, or any physical disabilities that would prevent safe operation of the vehicle.

Step 2

Enroll in Certification Training

After you have verified that you meet the basic requirements listed above, the next step is to enroll for your formal certification training. This training covers the principles of safe forklift operation, the types of vehicle(s) being used in the workplace, the hazards of the workplace created by the use of the vehicle(s), and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard.

Who provides this training?

This training can be completed through a variety of different organizations, including The National Forklift Foundation, an employers’ association, a labor union, joint labor-management training organization, or any other organization meeting the requirements of the most up-to-date 1910.178(l)(6) standard. To enroll in The National Forklift Foundation’s most up-to-date training now – click here. 

Is the forklift training online?

Yes. The instructional training can be completed online. The physical training & evaluation will be provided by your employer and will be discussed in more detail below.

What Types of Forklifts does the certification cover?

There are many different types of forklifts, each with specific advantages and applications. Online Certification training enables you to operate all classes of forklif with the exception of, “rough terrain.”

How long does this training take?

This training typically takes ~1.5 hours for someone with no previous forklift experience & ~45 minutes for someone with prior experience.

Where is this training valid?

The instructional training is valid in all 50 U.S. States. After the training is complete you can apply for jobs in your local area.

How much does this training cost?

The cost for this training can vary depending on what organization you are receiving it from. The National Forklift Foundation charges $45 per operator. 

What does the training look like?

While each organization offers unique training, The National forklift foundation offers training through a combination of slides and videos.

Step 3

Take Forklift Certification Exam

To verify completion of the instructional training, you must pass a formal evaluation covering the material you learned through the training. 

How long is the examination?

The length and type of evaluation you take varies depending on where you are taking the training. The National Forklift Foundation offers a 29 question – multiple choice evaluation that is included with the training course.

What happens if I fail?

Most organizations will let you take the examination as many times as needed until you receive a passing score.

Step 4

Receive Certification Documentation

After you successfully complete the instructional evaluation, you will receive a formal certification document. Valid documents must include:

  • Operator name.
  • Training date.
  • Evaluation date.
  • Name of organization performing the training or evaluation.

What do I do with this certification?

You should save a copy of this document for your records. Be prepared to show this document to your current or future employer as well. In addition, if you receive your certification from The National Forklift Foundation, they will store a copy of this documentation  if your employer wants to verify authenticity.

Is a physical copy required?

It is standard procedure for employers to simply require a digital version of this certificate. This can be sent to them via email or other messaging platform. 

Step 5

Start applying For Jobs As A Forklift Operator

Once you have received your certification document, you can start applying for forklift operator positions in your local area. It is important to update your resume to reflect that you have received your certification, because your employer will need this for their records.

What if I've never physically operated a forklift before?

 It is not required to have previous forklift experience to apply for most forklift operator positions. Once you are hired, your employer is required to train you on the equipment located in their facility.

How do I start looking for jobs?

It is recommended that the first place to start looking is through common platforms such as Google, Indeed & LinkedIn. Each of these sites have the ability for you to customize the search parameters and really drill down into job openings that fit your requirements. The great thing about starting your search on the web is that it allows you to see exactly what type of jobs are out there and you can get a good understanding of different position salary ranges. Other common methods include contacting your local staffing agency which many times can match you with a hiring employer. Staffing agencies have an extremely high demand to fill their customers temporary and full-time position for skilled forklift operators.
Linkedin Forklift Job

Step 6

Receive Practical Forklift Training From Employer & Start Driving!

Once you have been hired as an operator, your employer is responsible for providing you with the practical  (demonstration and practical exercises) training on the equipment you will be using in the workplace. Once they have showed you how to properly operate the vehicle, your employer will evaluate if you are competent to operate the forklift safely. They will then sign off on the certification document you previously received.